The Power of Making Constraints

Setting limits for yourself, whether that involves the money you have to start a business, or the number of words you can use in a book, often delivers better results than keeping your options open.

In 1960, two men made a bet. The first man, Bennett Cerf, was the founder of the publishing company Random House. The second was Theo Geisel. Cerf bet Geisel $50 that Geisel couldn’t write a children’s book using only 50 words.

The other condition: the book had to be good.

Guess what? Geisel wrote that book and won the bet. Theo Geisel is better known today as Dr. Seuss.

And that book? Why, it was Green Eggs and Ham.

Dr. Seuss channeled the power of constraints to write one of the best children’s books of all time.

And the 50 words? They were: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

What can you create out of them?

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